Draft e-waste rules are praiseworthy as they comply with international standards

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Prof Sadhan K Ghosh, director, Central Board for Workers Education, Ministry of Labour

EB: What is your analysis of the draft rule on e-waste?

It is really a well knit draft and praiseworthy as it complies with international standards. But the need of the hour is to set it for Indian standards. In my view, whenever these draft rules are framed, there is bound to be some positive and some negative feedback. It would be beneficial for the environment, and hence, lead to sound health and success of the nation.

EB: How will it benefit industry?

As far as the benefits for the industry are concerned, whenever a rule is enacted, there is bound to be a clash between the rule enforcers and industry, since, if implemented, industry has to pay. Nobody wants to make payments if there are no incentives. But there are few industries associated with electronics manufacturing that have taken a proactive approach.

While I was working on the e-waste study in 2007, I had seen many of the environmental objectives being met by companies, their efforts in reduction of energy spent on production, good e-waste management systems, etc. Such companies will definitely benefit. Though, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will need some time to get aligned to the draft rules, here the challenge lies with the government.

EB: Do you think the e-waste rules if implemented, would lead to corruption or increase cost of production?

Let us not relate the draft to leading to corruption and malign it. As long as the people of the land go by the rule of law, there will be no such issue. But if you’re asking me if there is any specific rule to curb corruption, in my opinion, that is beyond the scope of the draft rules.

Back to e-waste, when the rules are implemented, the cost of production will be less. In the long run, it will be viable but in the short term, customers would have to pay more as a part of the system.

If a product is not manufactured in compliance with the environment rules, we cannot call it an effective product or process because it must comply with the legislation of the particular nation. If we do not do so, it means we are not playing a responsible role, vis-a-vis, the environment. Whenever I purchase an electronic gadget, I have to pay when it turns into e-waste. So we have to be responsible regarding the space to be provided for that particular waste disposal, and any environmental disaster created due to the disposal of hazardous materials like batteries. However, manufacturers have to come forward to take on some of the financial burden from the customers.

EB: What would be your suggestions for proper implementation of the draft rules?

First, for the effective management or implementation of the rules, the government must have the proper infrastructure. Second, incentives must be provided to the franchisees or the recyclers who would be collecting the e-waste. Third, we must be careful about the technology. For instance, in computers, some parts are useful while some are not, so the processing of these parts should be done with care, otherwise the cost effectiveness will be lost. Fourth, the government has to promote recyclers in each state. Fifth, the government must be vigilant about the health hazards.

For the effective implementation of the draft rules, there is a need to build both public private partnership and government monitored models. This is essential to make e-waste a successful venture in the Indian context. Likewise, we have to understand that in future, e-waste will become a profitable industrial venture which will cater to millions. So now the prime requirement is to build infrastructure.

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